Thursday, August 2

Kamran Abdollahi dubs Baton Rouge “Green City”

Dr. Kamran Abdollahi
Baton Rouge, La. Professor and program leader of the urban forestry at Southern University and researcher at SU Ag Center, Kamran Abdollahi and his graduate students recently completed a scientific study of the more than 1 million trees within Baton Rouge’s city limits. Those trees compose a canopy that covers 44 percent of the city — a larger percentage than the professor can find in any other North American city. Atlanta’s 36 percent coverage is second, according to data compiled by Abdollahi’s urban forestry program.

The six-month study used the urban forestry community’s standard method developed by the urban forestry community and software created by the U.S. Forest Service. Last summer, Abdollahi and his graduate students pinpointed 400 locations indicative of the city’s forest, each measuring one-tenth of an acre, then counted and measured each tree at the location.

While some of the plots were heavily forested, others were developed and nearly treeless. The counting method resembles a scientific survey, where a percentage of the population can accurately account for the views of the entire country.

These plots will become permanent research locations where Abdollahi can return occasionally to search for changes — whether trees have grown or been cut down.

In his report, Abdollahi has attached a dollar value on Baton Rouge’s trees — $6.2 billion, a number reached using six separate measurements. For example, the urban forest removes 860 tons of pollution per year, he found, which Abdollahi said saves the city and its industry $6.2 million a year in costs associated with capturing contaminants. Also, he calculated that residents and businesses save $8 million a year because of shade created by trees — a figure developed by calculating the shade that covers homes and buildings on the survey sites.

These numbers prove that trees offer more than aesthetic value, Abdollahi said.

“It’s more than just loving trees,” he said.

Baton Rouge’s fertile location along the Mississippi River allows for a greener landscape, but Abdollahi credits the city’s interested residents with maintaining and planting trees. And he said he hopes through more education the city can keep what it has.

“Of course we are blessed with the ecology of the land,” he said, “but we have to take care of it.”

Abdollahi has begun working closely with nonprofit Baton Rouge Green, a tree-planting and education organization that has planted 4,800 trees in a quarter-century. While that number is a small piece of the city’s foliage, the organization’s projects raise awareness of the positive attributes of trees, he said.

“Baton Rouge Green is doing the right thing by showing that trees are important,” Abdollahi said.

“We have to appreciate what we have and build on it,” Abdollahi said. “We can’t say Baton Rouge Green is going to do it. We don’t have to do it. Every citizen should get involved, get organized.”

To read the full story, please visit the Advocate at

For further details, please contact Kamran Abdollahi at 225-771-6291 or via email

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Bridget Udoh
(225) 771-5714

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